GOODYEAR, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - It's the sport that's sweeping the nation. The courts at the Pebble Creek Pickleball Club are packed every morning. Who knew? The club is the biggest of its kind in the world!
"We have over 1,436 members. We've got 20 courts," said John Agnus, the Pebble Creek Pickleball Club president. "It's the fastest growing sport in the United States. It's the fastest growing sport in Europe as well."
The game itself was invented in 1965 by a Washington state congressman who needed to find a game to interest his bored family. The game has caught fire in the 55-and-over community in the west Valley. It costs $25 a year to join the club. Players can play as much as they want, even under the hot Arizona sun.
"It's kind of a mixture of badminton and tennis. It's kind of like playing ping pong, except you can stand on the table," said Mark Clark, a gold medalist winner in pickleball. "It's a game of finesse, strategy and a game of power. Once they start playing the game, it's addictive. You see people migrating in hoards from tennis. A lot of folks they come here for the golf but I was talking to a guy the other day over at the dog park and he said, 'You know, I came here for the golf and I spend all my time playing pickleball."
Clark tore his rotator cuff and is playing left-handed this season. He's seen the club double in size to 1,400 in the last four years. The club has rankings, going up from 2.0 to 5.0. The Pebble Creek Club welcomes visitors from around the Valley and around the world to play on their courts.
The sport isn't just limited to seniors. Agnus believes pickleball will end up in the Olympics soon.
"Absolutely. I have no doubt. The Olympics have to have so many countries represented," said Agnus, who moved to Pebble Creek four-and-a-half years ago. "That's going to happen. It might be 10 or 12 years but it will happen."
Pickleball can bring couples closer together. Gene and Jenatte Donahue moved to Arizona from Florida and spend every day at the court.
"Once you start pickleball you never want to quit," said Gene.
"It's awesome, best exercise you can get," said Jenatte.
It can also be a contact sport.
To learn more about the Pebble Creek Pickleball Club, click here